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  Sneak Peek: Happyponygate 03:37 PM -- Wed July 30, 2008  

That's actually a condensed shot - the real editor has even more dead space in the middle, which I just cropped out (and more dead space below as well, though that's just buttons I haven't made yet). I don't know if that space will someday serve a purpose, or if it will always be delightfully blank. It ain't pretty, friends, but it is certainly functional, and that's my goal. Making a complex menu with lots of buttons also pretty is far beyond my desired amount of time spent messing with stupid things nobody cares about.

The entire top section is done, though I think some more things will end up needed eventually (especially more monster flags). The attack definition is far from done. So how it all works is you make your changes, and you watch the little guy in your 'monster tank' in the lower right to see what your changes are doing to him. He sorta wanders around randomly in there. You'll also be able to click a Test button to make him fire off the currently selected attack when you want to see it in action.

The monster's level is automatically calculated based on the damage his attacks do and how much life he has. I am fairly sure there will be quite a few ways to exploit that, but I'm trying to err on the side of low level to prevent people from making cakewalk levels that power them up quickly and give them great items (actually, I think items won't drop in user-made levels, but that's something to consider later). When you let people make their own levels and the monsters that populate them, that's pretty much unavoidable, but I'm at least going to try to make it a little difficult. Of course, I could also make players gain no XP in user-made levels, but let's hope I don't have to be so drastic!

Speaking of drastic, check out my new hat:

Custom-made by Sol Hunt, this is an unfinished shot, though the hat is done now. The black part on the bottom is a baseball cap, which the yerfdog on top is sewn onto. The only thing you're missing in this shot is his legs, which sort of dangle next to the hat part. You also can't see his tail, but that's on the back, oddly enough. The ears and tail have pipe cleaners inside them, making them totally adjustable. You can perk his ears up to scan the crowd as needed. I fully intend to wear this hat to PAX, and look very stupid. I'm fully embarrassed to be seen in it, but that's the price I will have to pay for publicity. I've also designed a shirt that says

I will give you
Just ask me

So combining these two things should be instant win. You are welcome to start a betting pool on how long until I take it all off and go incognito in normal clothes. I still need to create the demo CD I want to have, and get the shirts ordered, and then I'm ready for the big event!
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  Bored? Games! 06:46 PM -- Tue July 29, 2008  

I'm gonna do a sneak peek tomorrow, as I am close to a good spot for one today, but will hold off until it's more complete. As always, I'm working on the monster editor. It's fun to use, tweaking the numbers and watching the guy zoom around accordingly (and you can make him do some serious zooming if you crank up the speeds).

Hamumu Software is going truly green! We are going to be so indie that we even generate our own electricity with which to make games. Solar panels are coming! Well, in the long view sense. We had a consultation last week with a guy who gave us the low down and an enormous amount of technical info. Just today I took some steps towards getting the necessary financing. It'll be probably a few months before construction begins, but it's definitely gonna happen, barring insane things like earthquakes. And we all know earthquakes don't happen!

Which reminds me, there was an earthquake today! It was maybe 80 miles away, and a magnitude 5.8. I felt it quite distinctly, though it felt more like I was just lightheaded and dizzy than actually quaked. My wife in town felt it a lot more severely. But even at the epicenter, a 5.8 is really not a big deal at all. Still, first one I've felt in a long while.

This weekend, my family held its official Summer BBQ, and we got to play a round of Arthouse. If you don't know, Arthouse is a party game I invented. Once again, it proved to be a huge blast of sheer joyous funpower. It always goes so incredibly well, and every time I play it (which is like once a year...), I think about how I really need to get it made into something I can sell. You guys would definitely want it, because it is the bestest ever. It's a game about drawing, only it requires no drawing skill of any kind - victory has more to do with how well you know the other players and how good you are at winning auctions (or making other players waste money in them). Anyway, I'm more serious than ever about getting some kind of sellable version of that in existence. It's just got to happen. It's very frustrating to have a completely finished, well-tested, universally beloved game and not be able to share it with anyone (or make a quick buck off of it, for that matter). Unfortunately, it's about 759x more difficult to sell a board/party/family game than it is a computer game. Can't just burn a CD for this thing!

And things are going well with hundredpushups, with Happyponygate, with our new fridge (yesterday was a massive shopping trip, that's for sure), and with WoW. Hooray for everything! Oh, and happy anniversary to Sol Hunt, I love you.
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  Summertime Notes 07:13 PM -- Wed July 23, 2008  

As usual during the summer, life chews right into game development (it's kind of like WoW in that way), and not a whole lot has happened since I journaled twelve years ago or whenever it was. I am still working on the monster maker for Happyponygate. It's pretty cool being able to tweak the values and see the monster change before your eyes. I think I'm going to like using it myself. So far you can pick which sprite to use, and change its color and brightness. Massive options, indeed.

I wrote a short story this weekend! That's something I'm trying to take up in my spare weekend time, and a weekend is just about the right amount of time to create a first draft for a short story. I had been talking about doing that, and when I went out to the post office, I came back to find that Sol had created a challenge for me. That made it both easier and more fun. She listed a few conditions for the story to employ (In a junky old spaceship, 3 grizzled miner-types, and a mysterious glowing blue jar), and then a bunch of questions to spur thought of where the story could go (Where did they get the jar? What's in it?). That did inspire me, and I churned out something I like. I don't think it's well written (and accordingly, you don't get to read it! Besides, it's not Hamumu-appropriate anyway), but I do like the actual tale being told. Hopefully, I can edit it into something readable one day. But not now! The one piece of advice I remember from writing books is to set aside your first draft for a few months before you go back to it. And that means I get to write other first drafts. That should be fun, or at least more fun than editing would be.

For some reason, even though I'm a published game developer (if you didn't know, I'm not just a self-published one, I have games that are, or at least were, available in stores from a real publishing house), I've always had a dream to be a published writer. Not a professional writer - I really just want to get one book published and be done. Something about having a book (or I guess a story would do... for a start) published seems more significant to me than a game. So that's something I'm always going for. I've tried Nanowrimo, even succeeded, at least in the sense of getting 50,000 words of a novel written. I didn't actually write the ending to that, though... Anyway, I think getting some short stories done, and published, will move me closer toward that goal. Or maybe qualify as meeting the goal, in my head. Because you know how to get to Carnegie Hall? Yeah, you take a left on fifth, head down by the hot dog vendor, and you'll see a Macy's. Then you make another right, head 3 blocks, and... well anyway, another way you could get there is practice. So I'm doing that, though I have no interest in Carnegie Hall whatsoever.

Done with my first day of Hundred Pushups, by the way. It went well. Let's see how day 2 goes on Friday (I forgot about it on Monday and Tuesday, so I started today). Doing exercise makes me feel more awake and energetic. It's good all around. Everybody should do pushups. Get to it!

We still have no fridge. Maybe on Friday, kinda doubt it. We do, however, have something that makes the first sentence of this paragraph a lie. Friends of ours let us borrow their mini-fridge, so we have a little space to keep some things cool! It's been quite nice. That's pretty much our summertime experience. That, and a lot of Netflix and expensive repairs to our Jetta (do not buy a Volkswagen. Ever).

Oh, and one other thing, I think I may not have mentioned that Hamumu Software, the entire company (not counting dogs and cats, if you thought those counted as part of the company), will be attending PAX (The Penny Arcade Expo) in August. As hoped, Jonathan Coulton will be appearing! It should be a delight all around. I'm going to be bringing copies of games to give away, or maybe making a demo disc to give out instead (but the games are already made, it's so much easier...). I won't have a booth, so I am trying to develop some sort of t-shirt/hat combo that will make me look sufficiently like a human booth that people will talk to me and be interested in Hamumu, without actually making me super sweaty and uncomfortable. It's a delicate balance, and all I know for sure is that I need to buy a white baseball cap to convert into a Yerfcap ASAP. I had an idea of making huge WoW-style shoulderpads, with giant foam HAMUMU sticking up from them, but I think that has a good chance of violating my comfort rules. And I don't think I could make elegant foam lettering. It would look bad. Too bad, because I think it's a cool idea.
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  Wee Mana 12:55 PM -- Thu July 17, 2008  

In a random IRC chat, I encountered what is the coolest drink ever: Mana Energy Potion. I wouldn't actually drink it, since it's incredibly expensive, inconceivably tiny, and absolutely jampacked with caffeine. But boy, isn't it cool!?

And you know that you can't visit ThinkGeek without wandering around marveling at all the overpriced but wacky things. Which is how I stumbled across something we can only presume is Hamumu-themed: Wee Ninjas! They're cute too. Let me take this moment to plug the ever-exciting and totally-free crowdsmashing game Wee Ninja upon which these must surely be based.

In other news, you are looking a little out of shape. Try A Hundred Pushups. I'm gonna see how I do myself. I really really really need to do something.
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  A Game A Week 04:24 PM -- Tue July 15, 2008  

I was driving to the post office today, and since the tape deck in my car spits out any tape I insert, I had to listen to CDs (normally I do satellite radio, but that plays through a fake tape you stick in the tape deck). Luckily, the Jonathan Coulton collection was in my car! And thus, I was inspired during my drive by his Thing-A-Week collection. Think about this idea:

I make a game every week (a small one, obviously). Of course, I couldn't start that until the Gate was done, what with both being fairly all-consuming tasks. Anyway, you pay $52 for the privilege of access to the Game-A-Week library. That's $1 a game! Oh, I should've mentioned, I do this for 1 year (hence 52 weeks). You could sign up to the library any time you want - have faith in me and order before the first week is up, or be a cynical stickler and wait until all 52 games already are done. Membership is permanent, you just pay once and you have access to all the games for all eternity.

There would be no demo for this, just tantalizing screenshots that non-members could see and drool over (week-long games are often quite droolworthy, you know). And what kind of games would you see? Well, you've seen my 48 hour games. They'd be 120 hours better than that. I get more time to make them, and I don't have to start from scratch! I think that's worth a buck.

I love making quickie games. As my wife pointed out, I work much better under pressure than during my aimless meandering normal life. That would be a really fun year for me, full of creativity and random weirdness.

Of course, other ideas might include things like buying the games individually or various sub-packs, or whatever. Lots tougher for me than just having the one simple package, though. But it would be fun to (eventually) offer different things, like the Professor Flounder series (a bunch of games made at various points during the year which star a highly educated flatfish), or the Strategy Pack, or whatever.

Anyway, what do you think of that? Would you pay $52 for the greatest entertainment experience of your life?
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  False Alarm 02:47 PM -- Mon July 14, 2008  

After experimenting on the now holy shirt, it has been determined that Kool-Aid is not at fault for the dissolving fibers... which leads us to a deeper mystery: how did I get sprayed with deadly acid while I was sitting at my computer? I suppose I may have gotten up to use the bathroom at some point in there, and probably gone to the kitchen too. But I don't remember being blasted with bleach or battery acid at any point. And it definitely happened that morning, since I saw the spots go from simple pink dots to gaping holes. By the way, I found several more holes elsewhere in pink spots. Very strange. And perhaps eternally a mystery.

Anyway, feel free to drink Kool-Aid. I still won't recommend it though, it's pretty nasty.

I'm neck-deep in extreme code chopping, which is why I'm writing this journal. I'm just really stuck where I am. I'm going to have to completely remove the existing monster system to put in the new one, and that's just a whole lot of work, and I'm not sure what all the problems are going to be. It's an ugly situation.

The new monster system is to implement monster editing, which will be tremendously delightful. You choose any of the existing sprites, colorize it like in Supreme, set the name, life, etc. But then it goes much further. You design up to 4 attacks for it to have, decide when it should use them (things like "happens when you get hit" or "use any time you have less than 25% life" or the most common "use randomly"), choose which animation they use, pick the bullets to fire, damage done, and so on.

So, I'm working on that. Or I was until I came here to type this to avoid working on that. This could be stuck for weeks with all the huge entanglements that need untangling. It wouldn't be bad at all if this were a new game from scratch, it's the act of trying to gut the heart of this living beast without actually killing it that causes traumedy. Well, without killing it beyond the possibility of casting Resurrect on it. I don't want to just raise a mindless zombie, though. I need a fully working Level 50 Dumb Game. So fingers are crossed on this epic journey I am undertaking. Let me continue to make metaphors so as to avoid actually working on it. It's a robot bear wearing a tutu. Okay, I better go pack up some CDs I need to ship, that also works for procrastination.
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  The Last Straw 10:15 AM -- Mon July 14, 2008  

And just as a grand finale (let's assume that's what it is... this has to end!), I MELTED MY SHIRT WITH KOOL-AID! I spilled a couple drops of Kool-Aid on my shirt (juice pouches are hard to operate!), and it has eaten two holes in it. Kool-Aid scares me now. I was drinking that! I actually watched it happen. I noticed pink spots on my shirt, then a little hole in the big spot, then gradually over the next hour or so, the hole grew (and a little one formed in the little spot), until the pink spots were gone... they were holes. It's really quite disturbing all around.

Fingers shown for scale, and notice slight pink edges to the holes. You can't tell, but the small one is actually a hole as well, and two full threads wide! I don't know why it's not visible in the picture.

As an aside, the responses to my last entry seem to demand this bit of info: I am a rational adult, so I don't believe in karma, of course! I also don't believe I am cursed. It's just human nature to find patterns in things. It's what we do. I was just messing around.

And so is Joss Whedon! Don't miss Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog which begins tomorrow and will vanish for eternity on Sunday.
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  Karma Failure 10:30 PM -- Sat July 12, 2008  

Okay, what on Earth did we do? This has been a murderous couple of weeks. I mean, okay, let me preface with nobody has gotten cancer, nobody died, our house didn't burn down... but man, how many minor (and expensive) inconveniences did we deserve? What did we do to deserve them?

You heard about the airport fiasco, and the fridge failure. That was preceded by $2500 in repairs to one of our cars. That car's battery failed today, stranding us in town, and boy oh boy, did AAA do a horrendous job of not helping us at all. Really bad experience with them, considering what you expect from them. We got by with a little help from our friends, though!

Besides the car, we've been investigating getting solar panels for our house. It's a really exciting prospect we've always wanted to do. And best of all, California gives you this awesome rebate, paying back about 30% of what the panels cost (that could be up to $10,000 worth of rebate for us, if we decided to go all out). Oh, but wait, what's this? Oh yes. We live in the teeny tiny zipcode of one of the TWO utility companies in all of California that won't do the rebate. And let me clarify here: this is a rebate from the STATE OF CALIFORNIA. The power company doesn't have to do a thing but process it. However, they do have to process it (never let it be said that government is wise or efficient), so we are flat out stuck. We could get solar, but we'd be paying 30% more than anybody else is! And it's not cheap even with the rebate.

Oh, and hey! You know how people use air conditioners to avoid dying to death? Ours wasn't working when we tried it this week for the first time this summer. We got a guy to come out and fix that up pretty quickly though. And if that isn't painful enough, it was followed by bitter vicious irony: once we got it fixed, that very night it rained. RAINED. And then it's been actually literally really seriously no kidding cold since then. It's never been cold in summer here, not once. Not ever. Not until this. Also it doesn't rain in the summer here.

Okay, this one is a nitpick. People are now moving into what was a nice forested empty lot just up the hill from us. They plowed all the trees down, and we hear them chattering away up there as they build (at six in the morning...), and it sounds like they are in our yard. And of course, their dog runs up and down the fence going nuts and upsetting our dogs. And doubly of course, once they build and move in, our backyard is a whole lot less private. They'll have a big broad view of the whole thing. No more turning on the sprinklers in my underwear...

And Sol's back has broken for no reason (broken=is sore all the time) for a couple weeks now. On the plus side, my usually horrible back has been perfectly fine!

So that's what happened. Now I am familiar with how karma works. I watch Earl. So what on Earth did we do!? And now I just dropped my sandwich on the floor. Yeah, I'm whining.
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  Adventures In Living 09:58 PM -- Tue July 8, 2008  

Life lately has been crazy. Our fridge failed this weekend. So today we did some fridge shopping (we have wanted a new one for a long time, so this seems better than getting it fixed - man, our old one was loud!)... and it won't be delivered for 2 weeks! So we are experimenting in life without refrigeration for a while. Buying the fridge was a challenge, since we live out in nowhere. One place was perfectly able to deliver to us (but only on wednesdays, and they had to worst choices in fridges), another would deliver to us but not into the actual house (because we are very capable of lifting a refrigerator up the stairs into our house?), and the third would do it all any day of the week (provided we wait 2 weeks for the fridge to be ordered first). We did the 3rd, simply because it was the best fridge. After we did that shopping, we went grocery shopping, and it was interesting trying to pick things that would keep us fed for a while, but didn't require refrigeration. We got a lot of thai noodle box things. It was hard to remember that we can still cook via our many modern devices. We just can't refrigerate. You know what I miss the most? Ice cold water. And now we can't have leftovers when we cook things! At least not much - we did fill a cooler with ice for some temporary semi-storage of things. And since our freezer was full of various frozen items, it's still pretty good for now. It's basically a cooler itself. Not much of an actual freezer anymore though.

That happened during the weekend, while Sol Hunt was away on a trip. So she was coming back monday night, and that too was an adventure. Her flight was set to get in at 9:30pm, and through more than one delay of various sorts, she ended up coming in at 1:30am instead. It was a very long night, since we live 2 hours from the airport. There's a whole adventure there in the fact that I went into town about 8 hours early (so I could eat lunch, since our fridgelessness really impaired the food options here) before discovering that it was actually 12 hours early, and I couldn't just hang out in town at midnight. And thus adventure ensued as I worked that out and broke into my parents' house (not really, exactly), and eventually did the job without falling entirely asleep on the road.

I guess that's only two major stories of woe, but man, it's just been nuts and weirdness. I want life to be normal living again. I can't settle down and do anything because we're constantly in the middle of stuff like that. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit more relaxed. We don't have any catastrophes scheduled for then, but walk-ins are possible.
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  In A World... 03:12 PM -- Sat July 5, 2008  

In a world on the edge of destruction...

Where donuts are illegal...

ONE prisoner...

And a long-dead stockbroker...

Must discover the most incredible invention from before time.

Coming Summer 2089 to RIAAnet (don't forget valid documentation of legal viewing status! 5 notarized copies required).

I gave up on the Mini-LD contest, not having any ideas that I really wanted to do, and just did something that was fun for me, and tangentially related. Check it out on The Random Fun Page!
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